The Washington State Legislature convened several committees focused on the impact and future of the 2009-11 biennial budget during the fall Assembly Days on October 1 & 2.
Members of Senate Ways & Means received a thorough overview of the operating budget and changes that have occurred since the budget was passed in April. Staff estimated that the Washington Legislature will face a deficit between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in the 2010 session. This is due to declining revenues, the resolution of lawsuits, and increases in caseload.
The exact size of the deficit, however, remains unknown at this time. There are several cues to watch in the coming months to determine the true size of the deficit legislators will face in the 2010 supplemental session.
- On November 3 Washington voters will weigh in on various initiatives that could impact the state operating budget.
- On November 19 the November revenue forecast will be released, which will be preceded by a caseload report.
- In December the Governor will release her 2010 supplemental budget.
- Finally, between now and January the resolution of several court cases that focus on 2009-11 budget reductions in the area of human services as well as cases that center on the investment that the state has made in K-12 education will likely take place.
While we know approximately the size of the budget deficit Washington will face come January, it is still very much a game of wait and see.